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President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has received in a video format Vahid Hajiyev due to his appointment as Special Representative of the President in Zangilan district, which is included in East Zangazur economic region.
The head of state made a speech at the video meeting.
Speech by President Ilham Aliyev
- You are being appointed as Special Representative of the President in Zangilan district. I congratulate you and wish you success. A lot of confidence is being placed in you, and you have to live up to this confidence with your work.
Zangilan district, like other liberated districts, has suffered great destruction. Armenian occupying forces have practically razed Zangilan district to the ground. There is only one or two buildings left in Zangilan, and these were used by Armenian occupiers, the military. There is not a single surviving village, all villages of Zangilan district have been destroyed. This once again shows the ugly face of Armenian vandalism to the whole world. It shows yet again that the Azerbaijani people and the Azerbaijani Army have saved our region from a great scourge – Armenian fascism.
At the same time, all our historical and religious sites in Zangilan district were destroyed by Armenians. We have already started the restoration of our historical and religious sites. With the financial support of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, the Zangilan city mosque is now being overhauled. As a matter of fact, it is being reconstructed because there was only one wall left of this mosque. The bitter landscape of Zangilan is observed in all other liberated lands.
We will restore all the liberated lands, and Zangilan is the first district in this respect where the former IDPs will return to in the near future. As you know, the first pilot project is being implemented in the village of Aghali of Zangilan district. Aghali village is actually being reconstructed, it will be a large and comfortable village. Every citizen of Azerbaijan and, in general, every person can see our plans in the example of Aghali village. How do we want to see our liberated lands? What conditions do we want to create for the people who will return there? Everyone will see that we will do our work in a planned and systematic manner. All factors will be taken into account – security, comfort, well-being, employment and future development.
At the same time, major infrastructure projects are being implemented in Zangilan district now. Among them, I would like to mention the transport infrastructure, which is part of the Zangazur corridor. Zangilan International Airport will be commissioned this year. I am sure that this airport will have extensive functionality. Because we envisage Zangilan as an international transport and logistical center in the future. The location of the district, its proximity to international markets and other factors will contribute to that. The establishment in Zangilan of the second airport in the liberated lands after Fuzuli, of course, is based on the geographical situation, and it will be an important tool in addressing our economic, transport and security issues. As for the Zangazur corridor, it is already a reality. Both the railway and the highway passing through the territory of Zangilan district will not only connect the main part of Azerbaijan with the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, but will also be a new road for international cargo transportation, an international road. At the same time, for the convenience of former IDPs, we are rapidly building a four- and six-lane highway. The stage-by-stage commissioning of this road will begin next year.
Azerbaijani citizens are well aware that during the occupation, the Armenian leaders wanted to build a road from Armenia to Jabrayil. This road, of course, was supposed to pass through Zangilan. These hopes and, in general, all their hopes remained in their own minds. As far as I know, they were planning to build a one-lane village road. We are building a four- and six-lane highway from Horadiz to Zangilan. At the same time, the existing road, the road left over from the Soviet era, which we are using now, will be overhauled. In other words, the new road will follow a completely new and more convenient route, and the road infrastructure along the road will be more convenient in terms of distance. Of course, citizens will be able to travel along this road and international freight issues will be resolved.
At the same time, a multi-lane road is being built from Zangilan to Gubadli and from Gubadli to Lachin. This will provide a connection between districts of the East Zangazur economic region. As for the railway, our station in this direction, which is currently the last link of the railway infrastructure, is Horadiz. The construction of the railway from Horadiz to Aghband is already underway, and I am confident that it will be fully operational next year. This will be a very convenient infrastructure for both citizens and international shippers.
We will also connect the main part of Azerbaijan with the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic through the Zangazur corridor. A completely new transport corridor will be opened. Considering that Azerbaijan has recently received a number of requests from the eastern part of the Caspian Sea, as well as the fact that both the number of those interested in sending cargo across the territory of Azerbaijan and the volume of cargo are growing, the Zangazur corridor will create additional opportunities for us and neighboring countries, of course.
I can say that we have attached great importance to the transport sector in recent years, for about 10-15 years. This is exactly why we are capable of accepting and transiting any cargo now. we are doing that and our capabilities will further increase.
Another important issue is related to employment. This issue is envisaged in Aghali village. New enterprises are to be established there this year. I have ordered that when the former IDPs return to the village of Aghali, they should have the opportunity to work there. There will be jobs in agriculture, as well as in enterprises established by public and private companies. We have very ambitious plans for agricultural development in liberated lands. Everyone can see and knows perfectly well that food security is coming to the fore. A lot has been done in this direction in recent years. However, we are still not able to fully provide ourselves with wheat and grains as a whole. I am confident that as a result of the additional measures, dependence on imports will be significantly reduced. The main issue here is both productivity and proper use of water, as well as the correct selection of arable land in the liberated lands and provision of agro-technical services there.
The natural climate and geography of the liberated areas are such that it is possible to engage in large-scale livestock breeding, especially in Lachin, Kalbajar, Gubadli and Zangilan districts. Agriculture can be developed in Aghdam, Fuzuli, Khojavand, Jabrayil, as well as Zangilan and Gubadli districts. The first agro-park in the liberated areas is being established in Zangilan district. Last year, together with my brother, President of the Republic of Turkey, we laid the foundation of an agro-park called “DOST Agro-park”. I was recently updated about the agro-park. I am very delighted that everything is going according to plan. This will be the first and exemplary agro-park. I am sure that there will be a large number of agro-parks in liberated lands – just as industrial estates are being established in both Jabrayil and Aghdam districts.
I think that agriculture should be one of the contributors to employment and key sectors of economy in Zangilan district. Because the natural climate is very favorable, and again, in the example of “DOST Agro-park”, we must see the future of all liberated lands.
At the same time, work has already begun on the restoration of villages in each of the liberated districts. The public was recently informed about this. We will also restore the villages in a planned manner. We have divided this process into stages – what villages will be built at the first, second and further stages. Of course, the construction of villages should be carried out in a planned manner, i.e. not spontaneously, but systematically. Therefore, every new village to be created and restored must have a master plan, and master plans are currently being prepared. The master plans of cities, including the master plans of Zangilan and the villages, will be prepared. The work to be done on all liberated lands should be based only on master plans. Not a single structure should be placed beyond the master plan, not a single building should be constructed. In other words, we are creating an exemplary living space. We will create an exemplary experience for both Azerbaijan and the world. Therefore, everything will be transparent, based on tenders and master plans. Preparations are currently underway in all liberated districts, including Zangilan.
Armenia also caused tremendous damage to the ecology of the occupied territories during the years occupation, and I have voiced those figures. Fifty to sixty thousand hectares of forest have been completely destroyed. We observed this via satellite. A process of deliberate deforestation was underway, especially in Kalbajar, Lachin, Zangilan and Gubadli districts. This, in fact, is savagery and looting. To describe the ugly deeds of Armenia during the occupation, I think these two expressions should come to the fore – savagery and looting. These heinous acts were also committed in Zangilan, and great damage was done to nature as a result.
Everyone knows that the second largest sycamore forest in Europe was in Zangilan district – the Basitchay Nature Reserve. Most of that Basitchay nature reserve has been destroyed, and when I was in Zangilan, I saw the stumps of those trees. At the same time, I saw the burned trees. They committed the same ugly deeds in Kalbajar and Lachin districts immediately after the war. They were given 20 days to leave, but they used even those days to commit their ugly deeds. They destroyed, burned, cut down and burned houses that did not belong to them. They were built by Azerbaijanis and they lived in them illegally. All the items were either destroyed or dismantled. These disgraceful pictures were also shown on foreign channels, and everyone could see what items they valued the most and salvaged in a hurry. At the same time, the trees were cut down and burned.
We have started the restoration of the Basitchay Nature Reserve. When I first visited Zangilan after the historic Victory, I planted trees there. This instruction has been issued, of course, and we will restore the Basitchay Nature Reserve. Of course, it will take a long time.
At the same time, Armenia has savagely exploited gold and other precious metal deposits in Zangilan and other districts. In Zangilan, the Vejnali gold deposit was brutally exploited. They have also turned the area into an ecological disaster zone. The illegally mined gold was then smuggled abroad.
We have now started all the legal procedures. I have informed the Azerbaijani public about it. Not a single crime will go unanswered. First, we are calculating all the damage, the process of passportization of all our cities and villages is underway. Video and photos of each building or the ruins of that building are being taken. This is proof, and we intend to appeal to international courts. Preparations are underway. Also, the illegal exploitation of the Vejnali gold deposit by foreigners, including foreigners of Armenian origin, will cost them dearly. We know the names of those people. We will expose them to the world and they will compensate us. They will definitely pay compensation for the damage.
At the same time, unfortunately, it is with a pain at heart that we observe the fate of the Okhchuchay River, which passes through the territory of Zangilan and is also a zone of natural disaster. The Okhchuchay was also subjected to environmental terror by Armenia. Unfortunately, a foreign company was also the author of this environmental terror together with the Armenians. The yellow waters of the Okhchuchay have been repeatedly published in the media. There are both photos and videos. So all effluents from the copper plant operating in Armenia were discharged into the Okhchuchay without prior treatment. This is a crime, this is environmental terror. Who did this? The former Armenian leadership! Because the shareholders of that copper plant are close to the former Armenian leadership, are close and related to the former leadership. We know that the development of this copper plant was based on corruption schemes. Unfortunately, a foreign company, which is the subject of international audit, also participated in these acts of corruption.
As for the Armenian leadership, every step and action they took was a disgrace, but if an internationally audited company commits such ugly acts, then it should be dealt with by the law enforcement agencies of the country the company is located in. We have mentioned that company several times, and I can name it again today – Cronimet. Why is there no reaction so far? Why don't German law enforcement agencies investigate the company's actions? After all, we have made an official appeal. We also appealed to this company, to “Cronimet”: come and clean up the consequences of this environmental terror. No reply. There is no response from law enforcement agencies. After all, we know how much attention is being paid to the environment in Europe. We know that the warming by a half degree is now considered a major problem for the whole world, for Europe. The problem of climate change is very much on the global agenda now. It is obvious here that the river originating from pure springs turns yellow. So the samples taken from there, as well as those taken during the occupation, show this. First, this issue was raised by Armenian ecologists. They noted that a natural disaster was unfolding there. Of course, they weren’t friends of Azerbaijan and they believed that those lands would be in the hands of Armenia forever. Therefore, they raised the issue and accused the previous leadership, the criminal junta of Serzhik Sarkisyan and his relatives. They also have evidence. But has a single step been taken? No!
Therefore, this issue has now been raised and is being dealt with by our central executive bodies. Of course, as my representative, you need to analyze all these issues in more depth and contribute to the compensation of damages, litigation and legal action. Of course, these are the main issues, these are the things that will be done at the initial stage, including demining. Our relevant agencies are engaged in this work now. Of course, my representatives in the field must also take an active part in this and provide their assistance.
The other tasks ahead, of course, are, first and foremost, the speedy return of former IDPs to the liberated lands. Here, too, the state is doing everything possible. All the resources have been mobilized. Funds have been mobilized. Last year and this year, 2.2 billion manats were allocated for these purposes, making up a total of 4.4 billion manats. This year, our economic growth is faster, and in the first quarter of the year, the economy grew by about 7 percent. Our revenues have increased. Therefore, I think that we need to allocate additional funds for urgent work. We must allocate additional funds for the restoration of liberated lands. The government has been instructed on this issue. Probably in the near future, we will officially confirm this so that we can do more this year. Four months of the year have now passed and there is a lot to be done. Therefore, the first project on the return of former IDPs, as I said, will be implemented soon. It is necessary to start other projects.
The initial version of the master plan of Zangilan has been submitted to me. In principle, it is acceptable. But, of course, I have ordered that extensive discussions be held. Naturally, you should join in immediately. The master plan of Zangilan will be based on all modern architectural norms. The appearance must be beautiful, there must be comfort, and all environmental standards must be met and applied. Since the city of Zangilan and Zangilan district in general are beautiful from the point of view of nature, the new city to be created should also embody this beauty. Therefore, the adoption and approval of the master plan and the subsequent work will, of course, be accelerated.
There are great opportunities for agricultural development in Zangilan. I have already expressed some of my views. However, the entire agricultural potential of the district must be thoroughly analyzed and recommendations must be made for former IDPs returning there. Of course, you, as my representative, should work together with central executive bodies – the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Economy, the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources. Recommendations should be given to make the best use of the agricultural potential of Zangilan district – what should be done and where. Of course, the work done in the agricultural sector during the Soviet era should be analyzed. But, of course, this cannot be the basis for us now because there were completely different agro-technical opportunities and completely different technologies at the time. We must bring the most advanced technologies to agriculture in Zangilan district, and I have set this task for central executive bodies – whatever the most advanced technology in the world is, we must have it too, especially in liberated lands. Because people have been longing for land for about 30 years. Armenia has stolen most of their lives. Thousands, tens of thousands of them did not live to see their homeland and died. Therefore, special conditions must be created for the people returning there. Agriculture means employment, food security and exports.
Zangilan is a border region, very close to Iran, Armenia and Nakhchivan. As a result of the launch of the Zangazur corridor, at the same time, given the roads stretching from Zangilan district to the Islamic Republic of Iran, the produce cultivated in Zangilan will have great access to export markets, and we must make the most of that. Because the railway and the highway from Zangilan to Ordubad pass through the territory of Iran as well – a relevant memorandum was signed in March. At the same time, it must pass through the territory of Armenia, and I am sure it will. Therefore, the proximity to export markets, of course, creates additional opportunities for both exports and imports. In order to expand local production, of course, we need to export goods and apply the latest technologies.
The protection of nature, of course, must be in the foreground. Zangilan district has a beautiful nature, it has a charming nature, and from a natural point of view, I think it is one of the most beautiful districts of our country. Of course, Zangilan district has great tourism potential. Because beautiful forests, mountains, springs, rivers, as well as the international airport, railways and highways – all this will be a great wealth. The tourism potential of Zangilan district, of course, must be aligned with the tourism opportunities that will be created in other districts. Now the distance to Shusha via Zangilan, Gubadli and Lachin will be very short and very comfortable. In other words, the tourism potential of Zangilan district must be thoroughly analyzed, and we must start work immediately. New hotels and recreation areas should be created, rural tourism should be developed. It will also be a source of employment and income for those returning there. In other words, the most progressive principles that exist in the world, especially in Europe, must be applied in all areas here. I have simply mentioned the main areas. But the most advanced experience in all areas, the most transparent mechanisms and comfort for people must be provided. If this is the case, we will achieve what we want. What we want is for former IDPs to return to their ancestral lands as soon as possible, to live there comfortably – as many people as possible should return and live there. We must create conditions for them to be enthusiastic. We conducted a survey among former IDPs after the second Karabakh war to find out how many people would want to return, because the work to be done and the buildings to be constructed there should be aligned with this. I am glad that the vast majority of the IDPs have expressed a desire to return. But, of course, they have lived in Baku, Sumgayit and other places for about 30 years, they are used to this life, they have jobs, they have schools for their children, they have schools for their grandchildren. We understand all this, and moving from one place to another is not easy. But I am sure that the love of the Motherland will take them there. We need to make them feel comfortable when they go there.
I once again congratulate you on your appointment to this high post and wish you success.
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Special Representative of President in Zangilan district Vahid Hajiyev said: Thank you, dear Mr. President.
Thank you very much. First of all, I would like to thank you for your confidence. It is a great honor for me to receive an assessment of my work from you.
The work to be done in these areas, in East Zangazur, will be very honorable for all of us. Under your leadership and based on the principles you have outlined, we will do our best for the development of our beloved Karabakh. As a native of Karabakh, I will use all my experience and potential to do my best for the development of those territories.
Mr. President, it is a great honor for me to work under the leadership of such a wise political leader as you. I would like to thank you again for your confidence. Thank you very much.
President Ilham Aliyev: Thank you.